Imagine if angelic beings went to school to learn to become guardian angels. They would probably have a lot of questions about the strange things that humans do on earth. They would need to study humans closely and learn the best ways to lead them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. In this Angel Academy short story, the angels learn about our human attachment to physical possessions and the struggles to follow the seventh and tenth commandments.
We had already learned about a lot of commandments by the time we got to the lesson on the seventh commandment (You shall not steal) and the tenth commandment (you shall not covet your neighbor’s goods). To be perfectly honest, we all had a hard time understanding why these two commandments were so hard. After all, we were angels. Angels do not have bodies. We do not have anything physical to own. We have no reason to keep anything for ourselves, therefore, have nothing to steal or covet.
The Archangel Barachiel, our teacher, came up a good lesson to help us understand what the humans go through. He brought in a big box and placed it in the front of the room. Immediately, one of the angels raised a hand.
“Sir, what is in that big box?” she said.
“This is a toy box. It is filled with many fun toys that kids enjoy playing with on earth. Go ahead. You may come to the front fo the room and open the box. All of you, please take a toy and play,” said the teacher.
We all stood and walked up to the toy box. We opened up the lid and found so many amazing toys. There were balls, dolls, action figures, stuffed animals, and many more things.
I took out a hula hoop and examined it closely. “What is this giant ring for, sir?”
“That is a hula hoop,” our teacher said. “The humans spin it around their waist and move their hips to keep it from falling to the ground.”
I tried to make it work, but my wings kept getting in the way.
A few other angels were floating above the ground passing a ball back and forth to one another. Some other angels were pretending to make the human dolls speak and have conversations with each other. Another two angels were playing restaurant: one angel was a waiter and the other was sitting at a desk waiting to be served.
After awhile our teacher interrupted our play time. He soared into the air and snatched the ball before one of the students could catch it. He landed on the ground and took the dolls in his other hand. Then, with his wings he whacked a toy fork out of the hand of the student playing restaurant.
I held up my hula hoop as he took it from me. None of us were that upset, but we were pretty surprised. The toys weren’t ours and there were plenty of more toys in the toy box to play with. We walked over to grab some other toys out of the box when the teacher slammed the lid shut and sat on top of the box.
“Sir,” asked one of the students. “Why are you doing this?”
“I have stolen back the toys from you,” he said.
“Sure, I guess so, but you are welcome to play with them instead. Can we have another toy?” said a student.
“No, they are all mine,” said our teacher.
I looked around the room. All of the other angels were as confused as me.
“But sir,” I said. “What do you mean by ‘mine’? Aren’t these toys here to be shared?”
Thankfully, the archangel smiled. “The humans unfortunately do not feel this way. They are so attached to material things that they seek to possess them and own them only for themselves. It is a very difficult temptation for them to overcome.”
“But when they join us here in heaven, they can’t keep any of those things,” said an angel.
“That’s right, but its hard for the humans to remember this. They get attached to physical things so easily. Moreover, they get trapped by ‘better.'”
“What is the meaning of better?” asked a studious angel in the front of the room.
“They want things that are better than what they already have. They compare their possessions to the possessions of others,” said the teacher. “They look for things that are better than what they have and they will go on trapped by the better unless we help them find joy in what they have.”
“Because what they have is good, right?” I asked.
“Yes, it would be helpful for the humans to recall the words of the commandment: ‘you shall not covet your neighbor’s goods,'” explained our teacher. “Better or worse, all things are good enough. To want what others have will only bring sadness. To steal the goods of others is even worse.”
Sim, the happiest among the angel students spoke up after some silence. “Why, sir, don’t they give their goods to others rather than take them for themselves. It seems they would be much happier that way.”
“Yes, indeed,” said our teacher. “Many saints found holiness on earth by selling and giving away all of their possessions. Instead, they lived lives of simplicity and service to the poor. They had few possessions, but they possessed much joy.”
“That seems very difficult for the humans,” I said.
“Yes, it might be. Many will think it impossible, but the closer they are to God, the easier it will be. You see, God created all things for them, but he is beyond all things. The more attached they are to him, the more detached they can be to things of their world. Never forget that as you guard and guide them to God.”
“We won’t,” the angels and I said.
“Okay then by all means continue to explore and play with some of the favorite toys of the humans. We will continue our lessons later after you get a little play time,” said Barachiel with a smile.
The toy chest was open again and we all shared the toys we thought humans would enjoy the most and welcoming each other in the games we played.
For more short stories like this one, sign up for the Formative Fiction Friday newsletter.